Nigerian army says troops rescue 800 Boko Haram hostages

Nigerian military says troops rescue 800 Boko Haram hostages as 16 other women are abducted by Boko Haram militants

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

A photo released by the Nigerian Army press service shows soldiers patroling on March 15, 2015 in Madagali.

Nigerian army have rescued more than 800 hostages captured by Boko Haram militants in several villages in the northeast part of the country, the military said on Thursday.

About 520 hostages were freed from the Kusumma village on Tuesday after a confrontation with Boko Haram fighters and a further 309 from 11 other villages.

"The gallant troops cleared the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists hibernating in Kala Balge general area," army spokesman Sani Usman said in a statement, adding that 22 "terrorists" were killed.

Three militants were killed and one was captured alive during the second raid on the 11 villages.

Usman said tools recovered included arms, axes and a motorcycle.

The military operations came on the same day that Boko Haram abducted 16 women, including two girls, in neighbouring Adamawa state.

"We received report of the kidnap of 14 women and two girls by gunmen believed to be Boko Haram insurgents near Sabon Garin Madagali village", said Adamawa state police spokesman Othman Abubakar.

Local residents said the hostages were captured in the bush while fetching firewood and fishing in a nearby river under the escort of two civilian vigilantes assisting the Nigerian army to fight against the Boko Haram militants.

"When the civilian vigilantes escorting the women saw the heavily armed Boko Haram fighters advancing on them they fled, leaving the women to their fate," said Madagali resident Garba Barnabas.

Two women who escaped by jumping into the river and pretending to have drowned later returned to the village to raise the alarm, he added.

Human rights groups have reported that militants have kidnapped thousands of women and young girls, including more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted from the Borno town of Chibok nearly two years ago.

More than 17,000 people have been killed since Boko Haram launched its militancy in 2009.

At least 2.6 million people have fled their homes since the start of the violence but some of the internally displaced have returned home after troops began a fight-back last year and recaptured territory.

A regional joint task force involving troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin is to deploy to fight the militants.